I have been happily reunited with my laptop computer, rescued and brought back from near-death by the good folks at NetCenergy. How did our ancestors survive without laptops?
First, let me thank the great people affiliated with the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association in Saulsbury, North Carolina. Executive Director Dave Goren, who incidentally used to cover the PawSox telephoned the other night to tell me that I had been named the Rhode Island Sportscaster of the year for 2011. It is the third year in a row and the fifth time in the last 6 years I have won. Very humbling, especially when you gather with the other winners at the annual convention in the Spring. I want to congratulate my friend and colleague, Brendan McGair of the Pawtucket Times. “B-Mac” won his second consecutive Sportswriter of the year honor. Thanks also to my I.L. broadcasting brethren who have called and sent notes. Appreciate it.
Was thrilled to see the Sox bring catcher Kelly Shoppach back to the organization. “Shop” was an I.L. All Star with the PawSox in 2004 and 2005. He’s been in the Big Leagues since then. Kelly is a talented hitter and very good defensive catcher. He’s tough and has a nasty streak in him that should serve the Red Sox well.
In 2004, we were playing the Norfolk Tides and Scott Erickson was pitching for the visitors. I mentioned on the air that he was in a relationship with former New England Patriots cheerleader and ex-Monday Night Football sideline reporter, Lisa Guerrero. I also noted that she was once involved with former Pats quarterback, Hugh Millen. No big deal, and common knowledge to any local sports fan. I thought nothing of it until batting practice the next day. I was sitting in the home dugout at McCoy when Shoppach and fellow catcher, Andy Dominique started harrassing me. “Man, Hyder, that was some messed up stuff you were talkinjg about last night on the radio.” Shoppach confronted me. I had no idea what he was talking about. Dominique chimed in “I better never hear you talking about any of our wives that way.” I figured that one of them must have been in the clubhouse while I was talking about Erickson and Guerrero. “You guys are nuts.” I defended myself. “I didn’t say anything negative and it was all things that have been in the public.” By now, a crowd of PawSox players began to gather around our argument and I knew I had better be able to defend myself, and win the argument or it could be a long season. With baseball players, there’s a “pack” mentality involved, and a guy who wouldn’t say “boo” ordinarily, finds strength in numbers, so slowly the noise level began to escalate.
Shoppach continued. “Seriously, Hyder, you better never even mention my girls’ name on the air.” I had a quick retort. “You mean after last week when you had me say ‘hi’ to her during a game?” That started the others laughing and teasing the burly catcher. Shoppach replied. “Y’all can laugh all ya want” he said as he dug in his heels. “But I guarantee if I hear it, no way you’ll be able to broadcast the next night.” The absurdity of his threat made me want to laugh. No time to back down, now. I had to win his respect and the respect of his teammates. Every now and then you come up with the right answer at just the right time. “Shopp- that may be so, but I guarantee you something, as well. Ain’t no way you’ll be able to catch that night, either.”
Everyone, including Kelly, broke into laughter, diffusing the situation. Our relationship was solid from there on out. As I said before, I am glad he’s back.
RIP Rick Hole. The former head baseball coach and Athletic Director at my alma mater, Rogers High School in Newport RI passed away on Sunday after a long and courageous battle against illness. Rick was my gym teacher who turned into a lifelong friend and mentor. Every year the highlight of my trip to Spring Training in Fort Myers, was the time I’d spend with him and his wife Jackie. I am really going to miss him.